« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
unteer aid-de-camp, in his expedition to nies formed through the northern parts the Ohio. The history of this disastrous of Virginia to command them, and was expedition, and the admirable conduct of also elected a member of the first conWashington, are too well known to need gress which met at Philadelphia. Here repetition: had his counsels been follow- he was placed on all those committees ed, the result, in all probability, would whose duty it was to make arrangements have been different. In the battle with for defence. When it became necesthe Indians, he had two horses killed un- sary to appoint a commander-in-chief, der him, and four balls passed through his military character, the solidity of his coat; but, to the astonishment of all
, his judgment, the steady firmness of his he escaped unhurt, while every other of- temper, the dignity of his person and ficer on horseback was either killed or deportment, the confidence inspired by wounded. His reputation was now estab- his patriotism and rectitude, and the inlisbed, and he was immediately appoint- dependence of his fortune, combined to ed to the command of a regiment con- designate him, in the opinion of all, for that sisting of sixteen companies, raised by important station; and, accordingly, on the the legislature of Virginia, for the defence fourteenth of June, 1775, he was unaniof the province, after the intelligence of mously chosen “general and commanderthe defeat of Braddock, and the retreat in-chief of the armies of the United Coloof Dunbar, had been received. He nics, and all the forces now raised or to was also designated, in his commission, be raised by them.” After expressing his as the commander-in-chief of all the high sense of the honor conferred upon forces raised and to be raised in the colo- him, his firm determination to exert every ny; and, as a still further proof of the power he possessed in the service of his public confidence, he was intrusted with country, and her “glorious cause,” and the unusual privilege of selecting his his diffidence of his abilities and experifield-officers. During the years 1755_ ence, and declining all compensation for 1758, he was engaged in protecting the his services, at the same time avowing an frontier from the incursions of the French intention to keep an exact account of his and Indians--a duty from which he was expenses, which he should rely on coat length relieved by the capture of fort gress to discharge, he proceeded, as soon Duquesne. After this expulsion of the as the necessary arrangements could be French from the Ohio, the hostile opera- made, to the head-quarters of the Ameritions of the Indians ceased, and Vir- can army, then at Cambridge, in the ginia was relieved from the dangers neighborhood of Boston. On arriving with which she had been threatened; there, he bent the whole force of his And, as the health of colonel Washing- mind to overcome the great difficulties ton had been much impaired by his ar- with which he was obliged to struggle, in duous labors, and his domestic affairs re- consequence of the want of ammunition, quired his attention, he resigned his com- clothing and magazines, the deficiency mission, having established an exact- of arms and discipline, and the evils of Dess of discipline in his regiment, which short enlistments. The history of this reflected the greatest credit on his mili- campaign before Boston is a history of tary character. He
afterwards successive exertions to surmount almost married Mrs. Custis, a young lady to insuperable obstacles, by one who was whom he had been long attached, and solicitous, in the extreme, to perform who, besides a large fortune, possessed some great and useful achievement, in great personal attractions and accomplish- order to prove himself worthy of his inents of mind. Previously to his resig- high station. In one of his letters to pation, he had taken his seat in the gene- congress, at this period, he says, “I canral assembly, of which he had been not help acknowledging that I have many elected a member by the county of disagreeable sensations on account of Frederick. For several years after his my situation; for to have the eyes of the marriage, the attention of colonel Wash- whole continent fixed upon me, with ington was principally directed to the anxious expectation of hearing of soine management of his estate. He continued great event, and to be restrained in every a most respectable member of the legis- military operation, for want of the neceslature of the province, and took an early sary means to carry it on, is not very and decided part against the claims of pleasing, especially as the means used to supremacy asserted by the British par. conceal my weakness from the enemy, liament. As hostilities approached, he conceal it also from our friends, and add was chosen by the independent compa- to their wonder.” This was written in VOL. XIII.
February, after a council of war had ex- except such heavy pieces as could not be pressed an opinion, chiefly on account of drawn through the roads, rendered almost the want of ammunition for the artillery, impassable by rains, were carried over against the execution of a bold plan in safety. From the commencement of which he had formed of crossing the ice, the action, on the morning of the twentyand attacking general Howe, in Boston. seventh, until the American forces bad Ile then took possession of the heights passed the East river, on the morning of of Dorchester, in the persuasion that a the twenty-ninth, his exertions and fatigues general action would ensue, as the posi- were unremitted. Throughout that time, tion enabled him to annoy the ships in he was almost constantly on horseback, the harbor and the soldiers in the town. and never closed his eyes. The manner The British general, in consequence, was in which this operation was performed, reduced to the alternative of either dis- greatly enhanced his military reputation; lodging the Americans or evacuating the and it may justly be ranked among those place, and endeavored to accomplish the skilful maneuvres which distinguish a former ; but the troops which were em- master in the art of war. No ordinary harked for the purpose, were scattered talents, certainly, are requisite to with by a furious storm, and disabled from draw, without loss, a defeated, dispirited immediately prosecuting the enterprise. and undisciplined army from the view Before they could be again in readiness of an experienced and able enemy, and for the attack, the American works were to transport them in safety across a large made so strong, that an attempt upon river, while watched by a numerous and them was thought unadvisable; and the vigilant fleet. In consequence of the evacuation could no longer be delayed. operations of the British general, it soon It took place on the seventeenth of March, became indispensable to evacuate New and gave great joy to the United Colonies. York. This was done on the fifteenth Congress passed a vote of thanks to the of September, with an inconsiderable loss 'general and his army, “ for their wise of men. The strongest point of the and spirited conduct in the siege and position which Washington then took, acquisition of Boston," and directed a was at Kingsbridge; but it was soon aftermedal of gold to be struck in commemo- wards deemed necessary to withdraw alration of the event. As soon as the Brit- together from York island, and the army ish fleet had put to sea, the American moved towards the White Plains. Genarmy proceeded, by divisions, to New eral Howe followed, and the battle of the York, where it arrived on the fourteenth White Plains ensued, in which a portion of April
. Every effort was made by of the American forces, occupying a hill Washington to fortify the city, before the on the right of the army, under the comappearance of the enemy. in the begin- mand of general Mac Dougal, were driven ning of July, the British troops were landed from their station after an animated enon Staten island, and some efforts were gagement. Washington then changed made by lord Howe, who commanded the his position for another, and Howe, confleet, to open negotiations for the restora- sidering this too strong to be attempted tion of peace; but they failed, in conse- with prudence, retired down the North quence of the refusal of the American river, for the purpose of investing fort coinmander to receive any communica- Washington, on York island. It was tion not addressed to him in such a way taken, and its garrison made prisoners of as to acknowledge his public character. war; on which the American general The English commander had directed his retreated into New Jersey. His situation letters to “ George Washington, esquire,” now was gloomy in the extreme. All and then to “ George Washington, &c., his efforts to raise the militia bad been &c., &c.," but declining an unequivocal ineffectual; and no confidence could be recognition of his station. The disas- entertained of receiving reinforcements trous aflair of Long island soon after- from any quarter. But that unyielding wards occurred, on the twenty-seventh firmness, which constituted one of the of August, in which Washington was most valuable and prominent traits of his obliged to behold the carnage of his character, enabled him to bear up against troops without being able to assist them. every difficulty. “ Undismayed,” says It constrained him to withdraw his forces Marshall, “by the dangers which surentirely from the island, which he ac- rounded him, he did not, for an instant, complished on the night of the twenty- relax his exertions, nor omit any thing eighth, with such secrecy, that all the which could obstruct the progress of the troops and military stores, with the greater enemy, or improve his own condition. part of the provisions, and all the artillery, He did not appear to despair of the public safety, but struggled against adverse raise a powerful force for the ensuing camfortune, with the hope of yet vanquish- paign; but his efforts were not attended ing the difficulties which surrounded with corresponding success. Not allowhim, and constantly showed himself to ing himself to be dispirited, he endeavored his harassed and enfeebled army, with a to make the most of the means in his serene, unembarrassed countenance, be- hands, which, however, so far from entraying no fears in himself, and invigo- abling him to carry into effect the offenrating and inspiring with confidence the sive operations he had meditated, were bosoms of others. To this unconquera- unequal even to defensive war. In July, ble firmness, to this perfect self-posses- general Howe embarked his forces; and, sion, under the most desperate circum- it having been ascertained that the desstances, is America, in a great degree, tination of the fleet was against Philadelindebted for her independence.” In his phia, Washington moved south ward to retreat through New
Jersey, Washington the Delaware. On the twenty-fifth of was followed by the British army, flushed August, the British disembarked at the with victory, highly disciplined, and per- ferry of Elk river, and, on the tenth of fectly equipped, whilst his own troops September, the battle of Brandywine was were dispirited, destitute, and daily de- fought, in which the Americans were decreasing by the expiration of their terms feated. It opened the way to Philadelphia of service. In December, the British for the enemy; and, on the twenty-sixth, general made an attempt to get posses- they entered the city, though not before sion of a number of boats for the trans- Washington had made an effort to engage portation of his forces over the Delaware; them again on the sixteenth, which was but, having failed, he went into quarters. frustrated by a violent rain, that renWashington, having, about the same time, dered the fire-arms of the Americans been joined by some effective reinforce- unfit for use, and obliged them to retreat, ments, meditated a blow on the enemy without any thing more than a skirmish while distributed in their cantonments, between the advanced parties. “From which might retrieve, in a measure, the the twenty-fifth of August,” says Mardisastrous posture of American affairs, shall, “when the British army landed relieve Philadelphia from immediate dan- at the head of Elk, until the twenty-sixth ger, and rouse the drooping spirits of his of September, when it entered Philacountrymen. He accordingly formed the delphia, the campaign had been active, plan of attacking all the British posts on and the duties of the American general ihe Delaware at the same instant; but only uncommonly arduous. The best English that part of it succeeded which was con- writers bestow high encomiums on sir ducted by him in person. It is unneces- William Howe for his military skill and sary to give the particulars of the successes masterly movements during this period. at Trenton and Princeton. Besides the im- At Brandywine, especially, Washington mediate advantages accruing from them in is supposed to have been outgeneralled, saving Philadelphia, and recovering New more outgeneralled than in any action of Jersey, the moral effects which they pro- the war.' If all the operations of this duced in reanimating the spirit of the peo- trying period be examined, and the means ple, were incalculable. Confidence in the in possession of both be considered, the commander-in-chief became universal. American chief will appear in no respect Immediately afterwards, congress de- inferior to his adversary. With an army clared, that, in the then state of things, the decidedly inferior, not only in numbers, vety existence of civil liberty depended on but in every military requisite, except the right execution of military powers, to courage, in an open country, he employed a vigorous direction of which, distant, nu- his enemy near thirty days in advancing merous and deliberative bodies were un- about sixiy miles. In this time, he fought equal, and authorized general Washing- one general action, and, though defeated, ton to raise sixteen additional regiments, was able to reassemble the same undisciconferring upon him, at the same time, plined, unclothed, and almost unfed, army, for six months, dictatorial power, for the and, the fifth day afterwards, again to conduct of the war. In the beginning of offer battle. When the armies were sep1777, Washington caused all his soldiers arated by a storm, which involved him in to be inoculated, as the small-pox had the most distressing circumstances, he proved more fatal in his camp than the extricated himself from them, and still sword of the enemy. During this winter, maintained a respectable and imposing while the two armies were in their re- countenance. The only advantage which spective quarters, he used every exertion to he is supposed to have given was at the battle of Brandywine; and that was pro- impossible; and even the troops who had duced by the contrariety and uncertainty conquered under Gates received the idea of the intelligence received. In a new of the change with indignation. The army, where military talebi bas pot lwen machinations of his enemies were fruswell tried, the general is peculiarly ex- trated without any efforts on his part, and posed to the chance of employing not the only did injury to themselves. They bu instruments. In a country, 100, made no undue impression on his steady which is covered with wood, precise in mind, nor did they change one of his forination of the numbers composing dif- measures. His sensibilities were for his ferent columns is to be gained with diffi- country, and not for himself. In June, culty.” After the occupation of Philadel. 1778, the British evacuated Philadelphia, phia, the British general having divided which was rendered a dangerous position bis force, so as to give Washington a fair for them by the part it was now evident opportunity to engage him with advantage, that France was about to take in the war, he determined to avail limself of it by and the naval force which bad been presurprising the camp which had been pared by that power before she declared forined at Germantown, and attacking herself. They retreated upon New York, both wings, in front and rear, at the same through Jersey, followed by Washingtime. He made all his arrangements with ton, who, in opposition to the opinion his wonted caution and address; and, on of a council of general officers, and taking the 4th of October, the enterprise was his measures on his own responsibility, carried into effect, and, for a time, seemed brought them to an action on the 24th of certain of a successful issue; but the dark- the month, at Monmouth, which, though ness of the morning, produced by a fog not a decided victory, was yet favorable of uncommon density, introducing confu- to the American arus, and productive of sion into the American troops, Washing- great satisfaction to congress and the ton was compelled to relinquish his hopes, country. lle passed the night in his cloak, and to direct his attention to secure the in the midst of his soldiers, intending to retreat of his men. This he did without renew the engagement on the following loss. Decided approbation was expressed morning; but, before the return of day, by congress, both of the plan of ihis en- the enemy liad marched off in silence, terprise, and of the courage with which it and effected their retreat to New York. was executed ; and their thanks were Marshall has given an extract from a letter voted to the general and the army. Hav- of Lafayette to him respecting this barie, ing taken all possible measures to cut off in which he says, "Never was general the enemy from supplies, Washington Washington greater in war than in this took post at White Marsh, where an at- action: his presence stopped the retreat, tempt to surprise him was made by gen- his dispositions fixed the victory. His eral Howe; but it was disconcerted, in- fine appearance on horseback, his calm telligence having reached him of the in- courage, roused by the animation protended stroke. He then distributed his duced by the vexation of the morning ile soldiers in winter-quarters at Valley Forge, dépit de la matinée), gave him the air best where their sufferings were excessive in calculated to excite enthusiasm." In the consequence of the intense severity of the year 1779, congress had formed the plan season, and their want of most of the of an invasion of Canada, which was necessaries for comfort, and even for ex- deemed altogether inexpedient by Washistence. Every efiort was made by him ington; and, in consequence, he requestto improve their condition, and augmented a personal interview. This was actheir numbers; and, for these ends, he ceded to; and, on his arrival in Philadelexercised, though with caution, the dicta- phia, a committee was appointed to contorial powers intrusted to him by con- ter with him on that particular subjerg, gress. His incessant labors and unyield- and on the general state of the army and ing patriotism could not, however, save the country. The result of their conterhim from the imputations which want of ences was, that the expedition against Cansuccess, even though occasioned by insu- ada was abandoned ; and every arrangeperable obstacles, always engenders; and ment recommended by the commandera combination was formed to deprive him in-chief received the attention to which of his command, and substitute in his all his opinions were entitled. From this place the victor of Saratoga, general period to the siege of Yorktown, no inciGates. But to weaken bis hold upon the dent calling for particular mention occurconfidence and affection of the great body red in Washington's career. He remainof the people and the army, was found ed in the neighborhood of New York,
watching the enemy, and taking every with congress respecting the military measure for the welfare of the country, establishment of the succeeding year. He without being able to perform any striking addressed a circular to all the state soveexploit. He had to contend with difficul- reignties, pressing the importance of supties the mastering of which required plies. He promised and made all possihigher qualities than are necessary to gain ble exertions towards expelling the Brita brilliant victory. His soldiers could ish from New York and Charleston. He scarcely be kept from perishing with cold felt alarm, and proclaimed increased danand hunger, or from dispersing and liv- ger, lest the debates in the British parliaing on plunder. They were daily leav- ment concerning peace should beget suing the service: some regiments mutinied; pineness in America. During the winothers revolted and marched home; and ter-quarters, when the military situation he could obtain no compliance with his of affairs in general would have allowed urgent requisitions for recruits. Nothing of his absence from camp, he remained could be looser and more precarious than there, in order to watch and allay the disthe thread by which the army was kept contents of the American troops, who suptogether; and, in any other hands than posed themselves ill-treated by congress his, it must inevitably have been broken. and the states. After the treaty of peace But, in spite of every obstacle and disas- was signed, those discontents, which he ter, he prevented the enemy from accom- knew at least to be plausible, gave him plishing any thing material, and adopted much trouble and disquietude.' He added such preparatory steps as might enable to his reputation by the manner in which him to turn to advantage any fortunate he noticed and counteracted the famous incident which might occur. In 1781, he Newburgh letters, and suppressed the planned, in conjunction with count de mutiny of the Philadelphia line. While, Rochambeau, a grand enterprise against however, he vindicated discipline, and New York; but circumstances concurred enforced subordination to the civil authorto induce an alteration in his views, and ities, he deeply sympathized with the sufto direct them to operations in the south. fering troops, and used every lawful He continued, however, arrangements for means of procuring redress for their grievthe attempt on the city, in order to deceive ances. On the 25th of November, 1783, sir Henry Clinton as to his real intentions, peace and independence being achieved, which he did with considerable address. the British forces evacuated New York, In August, he commenced his move- and Washington made his public entry ment; and, having taken measures for the into that city, attended by a splendid voltransportation of his army down the Ches- unteer retinue. On the 4th of December, apeake, he proceeded to Virginia with De he took his solemn farewell of the princiRochambeau and the chevalier de Cha- pal officers of the American army, assemtelleux. On the 14th of September, he bled in a hotel at New York. On the reached Williamsburg, and had an imme- 19th of that month, at Annapolis, where diate interview with count de Grasse, the congress was then in session, he resigned, admiral of the French fleet, which was in form, to that body the commission lying in the bay at the time, for the pure which he had so long and gloriously pose of adjusting a plan of coöperation borne, and returned to private life, which with regard to the investment of the Brit- he so much loved. After peace was proish in Yorktown, to which they had re- claimed, congress unanimously passed a tired. The siege commenced on the 28th resolution for the erection of an equestriof September; and, on the 19th of Octo- an statue of their general, at the place ber, after severe fighting, lord Cornwallis which should be established for the seat was reduced to the necessity of surren- of government. The legislature of Virdering the posts of Yorktown and ginia also decreed to him "a statue of the Gloucester Point, with their garrisons, finest marble and best workmanship,” and the ships in the harbor, with their with an appropriate inscription. It was seamen, to the land and paval forces of placed in the capitol of Virginia. WashingAmerica and France. The capture of ton took great interest in the navigation Cornwallis was generally considered as of the Virginia rivers: he exerted himself the finishing stroke of the war; but it to procure joint legislative acts of Virginia produced no disposition in the American and Maryland for the improvement of the commander-in-chief to relax in those Potomac. He negotiated with the latter on exertions which might yet be necessary the part of the former state; and the legisto secure the great object of the contesi. lature of Maryland, anxious to bear some He hastened to Philadelphia to confer testimony to bis worth, unanimously passed